Google AI Overviews: HowTo and FAQ Rich Snippets Without Visibility on Search – What Are the Alternatives?

Daniel Niedermayer

Chief Sales Officer, Retresco


In May, Google announced its AI-based search assistant, Google AI Overviews (former SGE or "Search Generative Experience"). This new offering has the potential to revolutionise Google Search. At the launch of Google AI Overviews, we at Retresco had already published a first assessment. As part of the SGE rollout, Google has now practically completely removed HowTo and FAQ Rich Snippets.

Blog post on the topic of GoogleSGE Snippets. Illustration of a Google search field.

What is Search Generative Experience (Google AI Overviews)?

So far, Google AI Overviews can be used experimentally. Organic search engine results are displayed as colour-backed AI-Snapshots ("AI Overviews Boxes"). Here, information and offers based on specific search inputs are generated by AI. The search is intended to become more efficient and personalised as a result. AI Overviews has been launched by Google with the claim to better capture user intent – the search intention – and connect asked questions with follow-up questions.

Google AI Overviews uses AI to provide new, relevant content from the vast amounts of information on the internet, which are tailored to the respective user interests. The content is presented in the form of texts, images and videos. With AI Overviews, detailed and varied web and product detail pages should gain in importance, where high text quality is essential to be taken into account by Google.

How are HowTo Rich Snippets and FAQ Rich Snippets structured?

Google HowTo and FAQ Rich Snippets are search results that provide information about the steps to complete a task or answers to frequently asked questions. Snippets like these can help individual web and product pages to become more visible in search results and help users to find the content they want more easily and effectively.

HowTo Rich Snippets offer a step-by-step guide to completing a task. They can be used for a variety of tasks, such as cooking a recipe, repairing a device, or creating a presentation. To generate HowTo Rich Snippets, text-based lists must first be created and provided with the relevant metadata.

On the other hand, FAQ Rich Snippets offer a list of frequently asked questions and answers. These can be used for a wide variety of topics, such as products, services, or industries. To publish FAQ Rich Snippets, lists of questions and answers along with the desired metadata must be prepared.

Up until now, Rich Snippets have been one of the most popular extensions for organic search hits. With some markup in the source code, frequent questions and answers could be highlighted. Google then displayed these – expandable – directly in the search results. This often led to more visibility on the search and therefore often a higher click rate than with regular search results.

Why are HowTo Rich Snippets and FAQ Rich Snippets no longer supported?

As part of its AI Overviews experiments, Google has largely removed HowTo and FAQ Rich Snippets from its search results. This affects all websites and online shops except existing government and health websites that have a high reputation. Up until now, it was the case that the more thematically fitting HowTo and FAQ Rich Snippets were published on a website, the more organic traffic and the better the SEO performance. Therefore, a significant drop in traffic with such text snippets for basic instructions and explanations can now be expected.

There are probably two reasons for this adjustment by Google. Firstly, Google would like to strengthen its search functionalities such as People Also Asked and Knowledge Cards. These features are becoming increasingly popular and generate more traffic than Rich Snippets from websites and online shops. Secondly, Google would like to train its language models and AI algorithms as widely as possible. Structured data and markups are an important source of manually labelled training data for Google – not least for a successful launch of Google AI Overviews.

Will HowTo Rich Snippets and FAQ Rich Snippets be replaced by Google AI Overviews?

While HowTo and FAQ Rich Snippets are no longer supported in their previous form, Google Shopping is experiencing a clear upgrade due to AI Overviews. In the future, users will get a quick overview of important factors and information to support their purchase decision when searching for products. That's why there's no way around differentiated and unique web and product descriptions with up-to-date texts, reviews, and images in the AI snapshots or AI Overviews boxes.

The focus of search engine optimisation will be to get into the carousel of links within the AI Overviews boxes. This will give users additional opportunities for research. Our initial tests have shown that not always the top 3 organic results are displayed in the AI snapshot. Therefore, it remains to be seen on what basis the various sources are placed in these AI Overviews boxes. Likely factors are the relevance of websites and online shops, the quality of the content, as well as the number and quality of linked information.

The AI-generated search results aim to answer information requests quickly and effectively, without users having to leave Google. If Google's AI provides convincing results, nondifferentiated texts will lose importance in comparison to the dynamically generated search results. In the future, it will therefore be necessary to recognise user interests, search intentions, and keywords in advance on a wider scale in order to appear next to or under the AI snapshot or AI Overviews boxes. Therefore, website and online shop operators are well advised to publish high-quality, varying texts on their web and product detail pages.

What impact does Google AI Overviews have on current content strategies?

The AI Overviews-based Google search is changing the way websites and online stores are ranked and how users find relevant information and offers. Despite the end of HowTo and FAQ Rich Snippets, comparable information remains highly relevant. AI Snapshots and AI Overviews boxes will have the greatest visibility in the search results and offer quick answers to various user interests. At the same time, it is about ranking organically alongside or below these new AI elements.

We at Retresco therefore see more than ever the need to offer detailed web and product information and corresponding detail pages. When clicking on one of the boxes, users are taken directly to these detail pages, where the offers can be purchased. To be found, website and online store operators, like previously for HowTo and FAQ Rich Snippets, need to develop tailored texts and meta-data. Even with a large number of such detail pages, high text quality is crucial. At the same time, it is necessary to avoid duplicate content. Therefore, it is also recommended for companies with good Google visibility to check their SEO and content strategies and possibly adapt them.

As larger website operators and online shops quickly have to equip thousands or tens of thousands of such detail pages with high-quality and variant-rich content, Large Scale Content Automation comes into play. This strategy allows for web, product and SEO texts to be created in large volumes and to meet the highest demands. A current content strategy ensures legally compliant, grammatically error-free and content-wise correct texts - and that for all commonly spoken languages.

In short, as soon as Google AI Overviews is rolled out internationally, a simple and effective scalability of text-based information and offers is likely to become essential for successful measures. Contemporary text automation offers faster time-to-market combined with significantly leaner workflows and lower costs.

For questions about HowTo and FAQ Rich Snippets alternatives, Google AI Overviews as well as the possibilities of scalable text automation, we are at your disposal. Get in touch - our experts are happy to get in touch with you!

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